It has been 25 years since Princess Diana gave one of the most stunning interviews of all time, touching on everything from her battle with bulimia to Prince Charles' affair

By Stephanie Petit
September 17, 2020 03:39 PM
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Princess Diana
| Credit: PA Images

In November 1995, less than two years before her tragic death, Princess Diana sat down with BBC1 Panorama to share her side of the story like never before.

Breaking away from the royal family's practice of keeping a "stiff upper lip," Diana spoke candidly with host Martin Bashir about the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles, the pressures of wedding a future monarch and raising young sons Prince William and Prince Harry. Among the biggest bombshells:

Prince Charles' Affair

Princess Diana and Prince Charles wed in July 1981 and welcomed their first child, Prince William, less than a year later, with Prince Harry following in 1984. However, it wasn't long before their fairytale ended and both were involved in extramarital affairs. Prince Charles resumed a relationship with ex-girlfriend (and current wife) Camilla Parker-Bowles, contributing to their 1992 separation.

When Bashir asked Princess Diana if Camilla was a "factor" in the marriage's breakdown, Diana replied: "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." The stunningly candid quote soon echoed around the world.

Diana's Eating Disorder

Princess Diana called the rekindled connection between Prince Charles and Camilla "pretty devastating" and confirmed that she suffered from an eating disorder.

"Rampant bulimia, if you can have rampant bulimia, and just a feeling of being no good at anything and being useless and hopeless and failed in every direction," she said.

Diana called bulimia a "secret disease" that she dealt with for years.

"It was a symptom of what was going on in my marriage. I was crying out for help, but giving the wrong signals, and people were using my bulimia as a coat on a hanger. They decided that was the problem: Diana was unstable," she said, adding: "The cause was the situation where my husband and I had to keep everything together because we didn't want to disappoint the public, and yet obviously there was a lot of anxiety going on within our four walls."

Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1988
| Credit: David Levenson/Getty

Diana's Postpartum Depression

Although the royal family was "thrilled to bits" to welcome a baby boy (and future king) into the family with Prince William's birth, Princess Diana said she had a difficult pregnancy followed by a secret battle with postpartum depression.

"You'd wake up in the morning feeling you didn't want to get out of bed, you felt misunderstood and just very, very low in yourself," she recalled.

Princess Diana added that she did not receive much support from the royal family because she was maybe "the first person ever to be in this family who ever had depression or was ever openly tearful. And obviously that was daunting because if you've never seen it before how do you support it?"

Diana's Self-Harm

During the interview, Princess Diana confirmed reports that she tried to injure herself.

"When no one listens to you, or you feel no one's listening to you, all sorts of things start to happen," she explained. "For instance, you have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help, but it's the wrong help you're asking for. People see it as crying wolf or attention-seeking, and they think because you're in the media all the time you've got enough attention, inverted commas."

She continued, "But I was actually crying out because I wanted to get better in order to go forward and continue my duty and my role as wife, mother, Princess of Wales. So yes, I did inflict upon myself. I didn't like myself, I was ashamed because I couldn't cope with the pressures."

Princess Diana and Prince Charles
| Credit: Tim Graham/Getty

Diana's Cooperation with Biographer Andrew Morton

It would later be revealed that Princess Diana herself was the source for Morton's revealing 1992 biography of the royal, but in the BBC interview, Diana confirmed that she permitted close friends to speak to the author.

"I was at the end of my tether. I was desperate," she explained. "I think I was so fed up with being seen as someone who was a basket-case because I am a very strong person and I know that causes complications in the system that I live in."

"How would a book change that?" Bashir asked.

"I don't know," she replied. "Maybe people have a better understanding, maybe there's a lot of women out there who suffer on the same level but in a different environment, who are unable to stand up for themselves because their self-esteem is cut into two. I don't know."

Her Surprising Answer on Who Should Succeed Queen Elizabeth

With William, then 13, second in line to the British throne, Bashir asked Diana if she believed her son should succeed Queen Elizabeth as monarch instead of Prince Charles.

"Would it be your wish that when Prince William comes of age that he were to succeed the Queen rather than the current Prince of Wales?" the host asked.

"My wish is that my husband finds peace of mind, and from that follows others things, yes," Princess Diana said.

Princess Diana
| Credit: Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock

Diana's Thoughts on Being Queen

When Bashir asked Princess Diana she believed she'd someday be queen, she responded, "No, I don't, no."

"I'd like to be a queen of people's hearts, in people's hearts, but I don't see myself being Queen of this country. I don't think many people will want me to be Queen," she said. "Actually, when I say many people I mean the establishment that I married into because they have decided that I'm a non-starter."

"Because I do things differently, because I don't go by a rule book, because I lead from the heart, not the head, and albeit that's got me into trouble in my work, I understand that. But someone's got to go out there and love people and show it."

For more, pick up PEOPLE’s special edition Diana, Charles, and Camilla: The Untold Story.